New genetic engineering: deregulation still controversial

EU conference ‚GMO-free Europe‘ wants to prevent free pass for genetic engineering

With its proposal for deregulation on new genetic engineering methods at the beginning of July, the EU Commission showed that it is prepared to abandon the current precautionary principle in Europe by pretending innovation could be made through  genetic engineering processes in plants which  supposedely  enable climate adaptation or reduce the use of pesticides.

But actually the implementation of the proposal of the Commission would play into the cards of the agro-industry, which profits from NGTs and hides the fact that its promises do not withstand to the reality check, as a scientific study by the Greens/EFA from July 2023 proves. At today’s 10th GMO-Free Europe Conference, organised by the GMO-Free Network in cooperation with the Green Group in the European Parliament, the Commission proposal will be examined from a legal perspective and by practitioners, scientists, consumers and politicians.

Martin Häusling, the Greens‘ spokesperson in the Committee on Agriculture and the Green negotiator in the Committee on the Environment, said: „Our warnings have been thrown to the wind and our fears have unfortunately come true with the EU Commission’s proposal: according to the Commission’s ideas, the developers of genetic modifications will be allowed to keep their detection methods to themselves. Agribusinesses can thus use the unlabelled – but patented – products and thus further expand their control over our food production. The proposed regulation is seriously flawed and leaves serious loopholes. It must not be transposed into European law under any circumstances.“

Sarah Wiener, Green MEP and rapporteur on the new Pesticides Regulation (SUR) comments: The EU Commission wants to put plants modified by means of new genetic engineering on the EU market without proper risk assessment or labelling. However, promising a reduction of pesticides in agriculture is questionable wishful thinking. Case studies from other countries show that the use of herbicides explodes due to the cultivation of GMOs. In addition, the proposal poses a threat to organic farming: neighbouring GMO fields can contaminate crops. The proposal clearly violates the precautionary principle.“

Tilly Metz, Green MEP and member of the Environment and Agriculture Committees adds: „An overwhelming majority of EU citizens do not want GMOs on their plates – regardless of the technology used to produce them. The EU Commission’s proposed abolition of the labelling obligation for an entire category of genetically manipulated plants would be an affront to European consumer protection. We defend the right to decide what ends up on your plate and whether one wants to consume genetically modified food or not.“

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